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Exercise and IVF

Everyone, everywhere is extolling the benefits of exercise for total body health and mental health. But what about when you’re undergoing IVF? Will abstaining from exercise during an IVF cycle or after embryo transfer help increase chances of IVF success?

“My main concern for exercise during an IVF cycle is once the ovaries are enlarged with stimulation there is the risk of torsion – the ovaries twisting on themselves,” says Dr. Brooke Friedman, a fertility doctor with Reproductive Partners UCSD Regional Fertility Center. Torsion is a surgical emergency. “Once you’ve been on stimulation medications and ovaries are enlarged, it’s prudent to abstain from vigorous exercise that’s going to involve a lot of bouncing up and down. Walking is fine, but I wouldn’t recommend kickboxing or Zumba classes.”

As for vigorous exercise after embryo transfer, Friedman concedes that we just don’t know whether it will hurt. Brisk walking is viewed to be a safe form of exercise at any stage of the cycle.

And should you be overly cautious and consider bed rest after transfer? “Studies have failed to show a benefit from bed rest after transfer,” she says. “Out of an abundance of caution we continue to recommend resting after transfer, but we really don’t have evidence to support it.” One caveat: if rest is going to increase your stress level it’s probably better to go about your normal activities of daily living. It just depends on your personality, Friedman adds.


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